Assignment of Meeting the challenges of the postmodern consumers

Any individual who purchases products and services from the market for his/her end-use is called a consumer. In simpler words a consumer is one who consumes goods and services available in the market. In the world of today, there are countless products made available by endless providers that each, in some way, attempt to persuade consumers to purchase their specific product(s) or service(s). Some companies manufacture or provide similar, sometimes almost identical, goods and some provide differentiated products that may suit certain niche markets. Either way, consumers constantly have to choose between products and services that they want to buy based on what is felt suitable to their identity. That is, the decision of buying a specific product or service is in the end up to the individual consumer. People are greatly influenced by their surroundings, which in the age of globalization could mean anything, and anywhere across the globe. Sometimes we seek to be influenced by other people, as we would like to know what a specific group thinks of a product. This could be because we identify ourselves with a specific group and value its opinion. In other cases we are influenced, unknowingly, by the flow of information that we are constantly bombarded with during the day each time we log on to Face Book, or turn on the TV where companies promote their products or brands. Everywhere we move, the communities and cultures we surround ourselves with changes our perspectives and the experiences we have with the products we associate our lives with, which makes up for new consumer behavior and hence a new way of marketing the products and services.

This age of postmodernism has over the past decades brought with it changes to society and how people live their lives, create identities, behave as consumers, and experience products. This generates the need for new measures of research and marketing as sort of a countermeasure to the old methods of modern marketing which seem to have become challenged by these consumers of the postmodern age. Gaining insight to the world of postmodernism and the postmodern consumer can prove to be vital knowledge for corporations, as it enables them to further develop the products that they provide, and more importantly increase the consumer value that the end-consumer receives through the product experienced, both individually and in social contexts which, because of globalization, know almost no boundaries.

However, in pursuit of clarity on “meeting the challenges of postmodern consumes”, this discussion is directed more specifically at the following questions:

- Firstly who and/or what are the postmodern consumer and what are his/her service expectations?

- Secondly, from marketing perspective, what are the implications of the emerging postmodern consumer for organizations?

To arrive at answers to these questions, this project paper will dig into the background of postmodernism and lead back to the period of modernism to illustrate from where the postmodern period has evolved. The phenomenon of postmodernism itself is presented by five characteristics that show the tendencies of the marketplace which consumers operate in, and an image of the global evolution that has arisen with postmodernism and new trends of globalization.

Finally, The characteristics of postmodernism will be supplemented by an illustration of six natures of postmodernism that pose a set of challenges to modern marketing and pointing towards the need for new measures in marketing – measures of cooperation with the postmodern consumer, and emphasizing the importance of the marketer/consumer relationship.

Modernism and postmodernism

To gain an understanding of the change in consumer culture, the stage it is now at, and from which stage it has evolved, it is necessary to take a look into the theory on modernism & postmodernism and a comparison of the two.

Modernism

Borgmann (1992) and Firat & Venkatesh (1995) define modernity and modernism as:

“Modernity usually refers to the time period and modernism refers to the philosophical and socio-cultural ideas and conditions marking this period.”

In the period of modernism, individuals are defined as cognitive subjects operating in a social and economic order driven by the power of reason. Put differently, people in this period are greatly focused on how to improve their way of life through material goods or services available. It is a time where here and now is highly valued, and where the consumer will seek to improve quality of life through goods that can be acquired. This materialistic focus of the time, along with the industrialization, created the rise of the capitalist society which boosted the need for marketing as companies had to find ways of selling the products to the materialistic consumers.

Technological advances herein had an effect on the evolution from modernism. In the late sixties and early seventies, the industrial societies began to change. The society entered a more information oriented period revolving around information technology in both production and consumption. This centralization of IT granted ease to corporations in terms of improvements in the actual production of goods, but it also influenced consumption, as the new technology began to enter the consumer homes. Consider the television entering the consumer market and the effects that it brought with it in terms of marketing and advertising possibilities; it was not the type of marketing we see today, but it broadened the options for companies to reach consumers, and allowed for the creation of images that consumers can relate to.